Singleton, Chichester, June 26 2010
After a nice early rise, 300 riders were ready to go and rolling across the start-line by 7.30am for what has been called a ‘Super Sportive’. Making the most of the daylight hours was the objective of the day as 207km of hilly terrain lay ahead.
It was time to quickly stuff a gel in your back pocket, but in hindsight a pocket rocket would have been better. Everyone was away by 8.15am, leaving an eerie silence over the Open Air Museum.
The predicted forecast of temperatures reaching 30°C meant no one was complaining about the cool morning air; instead they were worrying about how brutal it would be later on. The British fascination with the weather kept conversations going in the bunches and the kilometres ticked by. Several bumps punctuated the chatter with gasps of air, and caused a few sweaty brows to start appearing.
Forward planning by organisers UK Cycling Events meant the aid stations were stocked up on extra water for mopping the brow and sun cream to stop the fair skin turning into the famed Brit-on-holiday corned beef colour. The ‘eat now’ and ‘take-away’ food on offer was a great system and meant that riders didn’t need to be totally self-sufficient on such a long day.
Rated a five out of five on the Wiggle Super Series hard-o-meter was an understatement. The needle should have broken off the dial. Not only was the distance a stretch for all entered, 3,000 metres of climbing made it brutal. Put into context, it was 26 kilometres longer than this year’s Etape du Tour and had over half the climbing, without being in the mountains. Any way you look at it, it was a long day in the saddle.
Tackling the continuous array of rolling hills, with the sun beating down on riders’ backs, was made easier by the fact that the whole route had been swept the day before to remove any dangerous loose gravel.
Stunning views of the Isle of Wight and the North and South Downs made all 10 major climbs of Apple Down, Uppark, Butser, Hyden Hill, Old Winchester, Park Hill, Tote Hill, Fox Hill, Duncton Down, and Charlton Down (Goodwood) worth it. The last three climbs were devilishly placed in the last 30 kilometres.
On reaching the finish, boiling riders were thankful for the organisers’ quick thinking to combat the heat by providing a misting station, giving a refreshing, cooling ‘argh’. Many a cold beverage afterwards gave a refreshing ‘argh’ too.
My ride: Paul O’Sullivan
66 miles in 4-33
“Fantastic day. I live close by and found it very enjoyable. It got a bit hot out there but I didn’t seem to struggle too much. There weren’t any big hills so we kept up a good speed and were in a breeze all day.”
My ride: Matthew Elliott
Club: Optima Racing Team
127 miles in 8-17
“A very good day. The route was great, as was the organisation. I would definitely do the event again. I was helping someone else around the course so I didn’t find the distance too bad.”
My ride: Tim Stoyle
127 miles in 7-57
“Overall, the event was good. There weren’t enough riders doing the long course; many turned off at the short-course turning. I spent the second half on my own, which wasn’t as much fun as riding in groups.”
Wiggle Super Series The Long One
Major climbs: 14
First finisher: 5-23/3-30
Last finisher: 9-56/9-08
Best: Quiet roads
Worst: 200km of hills
Event website: www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk